The PGA Tour has announced schedule changes and prize money increases to stem the flow of big-name players joining the rival LIV Golf International Series.
Brooks Koepka became the ninth major champion to sign on in the controversial Saudi-backed league and rocked the PGA Tour on Wednesday.
The American joined Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwarzel and Bryson DeChambeau in breakaway competition.
Defective players have been indefinitely banned from PGA Tour events but were allowed to play at the US Open last week and play at the 150th Open at St Andrews next month.
The PGA has been rumored to be considering a move to a calendar-year schedule, alongside bigger purses and the creation of new international no-cut events featuring the tour’s top 50 players.
Commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed these changes at a press conference ahead of the Travelers Championship, stressing the PGA’s need to innovate to remain the premier competition in golf.
“I want to talk about where the PGA Tour is going. We do not expect to meet this current challenge by relying solely on our heritage and track record,” he said.
“We’ve been on a path of strengthening and evolving our product for the benefit of our fans and players alike for a number of years, those plans are obviously being accelerated given the current environment.
“We produced some exciting developments from yesterday’s Policy Board meeting that will further secure our status as the preeminent golf tour in the world.
“This includes the evolution of our future product model for the 2022-23 season and beyond, a return to a calendar year schedule beginning in 2024, with the FedEx Cup being played from January through August and culminating with the FedEx Cup Play-offs followed by the fall events.
“[The Tour will also add] revised field sizes for the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2023 and beyond, [and] the creation of a series of up to three international events to be played upon completion of the fall schedule, featuring the top 50 players from the FedEx Cup points list.
“Alongside these changes, the Policy Board also modified the resource allocation plan to increase purse size at eight events during the 2022-23 season, with an average purse of $20 million.
“There is still much to be done and details to be confirmed, but implementing significant changes to our schedule gives us the best opportunity not only to increase revenue for our players, but also to improve our product and provide a platform for further growth in the to create the future.”
Rory McIlroy, a vocal opponent of LIV Golf, had previously said he supports the changes, telling Sky Sports: “I think extending the FedExCup season to a calendar year would be a pretty good idea.
“Then it gives the guys the opportunity to play if they want to play in the fall, or if they don’t want to play in the fall they don’t have to, they’re not forced to.
“They’re trying to provide play opportunities and create prize money for the bottom half of the members, but also try to accommodate the desires of the top half of the members in an off-season, a time outside of the FedExCup schedule. So it’s a balance.”
Monahan added that the PGA does not want to compete financially with the rival tour, which is led by two-time major champion Greg Norman, which he called “irrational”.
“I’m not naive,” said Monahan. “If this is an arms race and the only weapons are dollar bills, the PGA Tour cannot compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars to buy the game of golf.
“We embrace good healthy competition, the LIV series is not. It’s an irrational threat that doesn’t care about the return on investment or the true growth of the game.
“Currently no organization owns or dominates the game of golf, instead the various entities work together to meet our own respective priorities but in the best interests of the game.
“When someone tries to buy the sport and dismantle the institutions that are inherently invested in growth and focused only on a personal priority, that partnership evaporates.
“Instead, what we end up with is one person, one entity, using endless amounts of money to steer employees towards their personal goals, which may or may not change tomorrow or the day after.
“I doubt that’s the vision any of us have for the game.”